The Jets did more than beat the Dolphins in Week 3.
The beat them up, too.
Sometimes, luck or scheme decides a game.
Not back on Sept. 24 at MetLife Stadium.
This was simply one team taking it to the other at the point of impact. And not stopping until the game was over.
The Dolphins’ offensive line got pushed back, time and time again.
And if the same happens in the rematch Sunday, expect the same result: a Jets win.
“Offensively, it all starts with us up front,” said guard Jermon Bushrod. “It all starts with us up front. We have to be at the best of our ability so we can give our playmakers a chance. We can give the quarterback some time, so we can give our running backs a hole. Our receivers can’t make plays if our quarterback can’t get the ball to him. The game starts with us.”
The stat sheet told the tale. The Jets held the Dolphins to season lows in rushing yards (30) and yards per carry (2.0). The Dolphins only avoided a shutout because they scored a meaningless touchdown on the final play of the game.
The Jets, as Adam Gase put it post-game, “beat the s--- out of” the Dolphins.
And New York sent Gase’s offense into a funk that it’s only now, a month later, coming out of.
With 20 second-half points in their comeback win against the Falcons, the Dolphins have finally shown signs of life. But another no-show performance against the Jets would undo any progress made a week ago.
“We have to be as physical as them,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “When we leave the field, we have to have out-physicaled them. They know it. We know it. Players know it. [It was] really, really obvious that they got after us physically.”
The Jets out-techniqued them, too. Christensen said New York’s stout defensive line consistently got better leverage by getting under the Dolphins’ pads. By losing on first down time and again, the Dolphins got behind the sticks. And that set up unmanageable third-down situations.
“We were one-of-15 on third and fourth down,” Christensen added. “You don’t get many chances, you don’t get a chance to wear them down, you don’t get a chance for them to have to stay on the field a little bit, which is all helpful. We were dismal on third and fourth down, and that leads to a lot of problems. That keeps them fresh, they’re not on the field very long, etc., etc., etc. But the bottom line is they did out-physical us in the ball game, and that can’t happen.”
Complicating matters for the Dolphins: They might be without center Mike Pouncey, who remains under concussion protocol. Pouncey has made progress in recent days and went through all individual and position drills Friday.
Pouncey is listed as questionable to play on the final injury report of the week.
But if he does not, Jake Brendel will get the start.
And if last week’s performance is any guide, there might not be much dropoff. The Dolphins staged their rally with Pouncey in the locker room, and Brendel played great aside from three bad plays, Christensen said.
“That’s pretty true,” Brendel conceded. “I just really got to focus in on honing my technique on certain things and make sure that really I’m just not getting lazy. Stay active, really, that’s what it was.”
Perhaps just as important: that Brendel can take charge when needed. Brendel, who would be responsible for making calls at the line, is no shrinking violet. His dad is a cop and his mom a teacher, so he can be loud when needed.
Loud is good. Loud and physical? That would be the complete package.
“That’s always our goal, especially as an offensive line,” Brendel said. “You’ve got to go out there and be physical. You can’t be passive, you can’t be soft.”
▪ The Dolphins listed DeVante Parker (ankle) as doubtful to play against the Jets. In addition to Pouncey, three other Dolphins are questionable: defensive end Andre Branch (knee) and cornerbacks Xavien Howard (ankle) and Byron Maxwell (foot).